Friendship is therapy.
Not to discount professional counseling. Quite the contrary. Psychotherapy has been a godsend in my life.
So have my friends. I cannot imagine life without friends.
My best friend has been in my life since kindergarten. We grew up in a small town where everyone seems to know everyone else. Though we knew each other, we were both too shy to be anything but classmates for the first few years of school. Sometime or other, that changed.
For most friendships, part of the beauty lies in becoming closer without really knowing when exactly you clicked. This is true for us as well.
Though we cannot pinpoint the exact start of our sisterhood, Teacher Leia and I have been “true blues” for over two decades. We have the kind of friendship that includes phone calls, text messages, Facebook posts, online messages, and even real, honest-to-goodness letters in the mail, not to forget about our friend dates.
Those friend dates are things to be cherished. They usually leave both parties with a renewal of spirits, a combination of calmness and energy, that might last hours or days after you part. I thought of these things as Teacher Leia and I sat in the movie theater last autumn watching a screening of “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” I hold dear those moments when I can spend time with her.
Due to busy lives, we didn’t have many opportunities of seeing each other as much as we would like, even though we lived within thirty minutes of each other. We regularly sent messages to each other, often consisting of things like “We need to hang out again,” “I need some girl time,” and the ever-present “I miss you, friend.” (It’s even harder now with her in Florida, as I won’t see her again until Christmas at the earliest.)
Our sometimes rare but always treasured friend dates don’t even have to include the departing of money from our wallets, though we do often share coffee or lunch. Simply being in the same room as each other watching a movie or reading magazines or baking Christmas cookies offers the same effect.
The same kind of companionship can be had by others. You don’t need to have a decades-long bond. Even new friends can care enough to reap the benefits. I have noticed that when people form a healthy attachment with others, they often already have the desire to stay in touch regardless of financial circumstances.
While keeping in contact is very important for both the relationship and the therapeutic qualities it offers, my friend and I can sometimes go months without having a face-to-face, and still it feels as if not a day has gone by. When we are on the phone, we often feel like our sixteen year old selves again, giggling like schoolgirls and talking for hours. Over the years, we have developed our own special language only we understand. We can finish each other’s sentences or need merely say a word or two for the other to comprehend.
That’s the joy of closeness. You know you can always count on them to not only understand the things you say but also those things you do not or cannot say. My best friend has a habit of denying what I know to be true, even to herself. I’ve learned to listen without judgment and wait for the moment when she is finally ready to face the truth, whatever the truth may be. She has thankfully done the same for me as well.
For example, I was too afraid to admit my depression to anyone. When I finally worked up the courage to tell my best friend, after almost two years of suffering in silence, Teacher Leia told me she knew. She knew because she noticed differences in me and my personality that many others had not.
Teacher Leia recognized the subtle things I easily hid from everyone else but couldn’t hide from her. She treated me with such grace as well. There are those who might have feigned surprise or shock. Others might have taken on an “it’s about time you told me” attitude. If you love this in your best friend, then I’m do happy for you. As for me, I cried mixed tears of relief, sadness, and happiness at the small, gentle, loving smile she gave me with the words “I already knew.”
This shows me friends really do prove their worth in times of trouble. When one might be facing their darkest moments of sadness, when they might proclaim the issue isn’t a big deal, there is no need to worry, and so on, the other is there. No amount of “I’m okay” can keep a true friend away when they know how you must really feel. They might even unexpectedly show up in person with open arms and ears.
That can be the best type of surprise, in all honesty. It can make one realize just how much they need their dearest friend, especially after pushing others away. When one’s own heart breaks, so does the other’s. You laugh together and cry together. You come to love them as much as or maybe even more than your siblings. They become your non-biological family.
My best friend and I have been “sisters” for nearly a quarter of a century now. Over twenty years of inside jokes and shared emotions. That is the goal of friendship, I believe. To find yourself in your friend while embracing the things that make you unique. You can be who you are around them and never worry about judgment.
I would encourage everyone to find that friend, or friends if you are so lucky. You may find them at work, in school, at your favorite hangout, or even in your family. They might be your significant other. If you have your own “true blue,” cherish them. Hold on to them, and be the friend to them they are to you. Treasure the moments you share, knowing you are healing your minds and souls together.